Steve Reich is represented by Rayfield Allied worldwide (exc. North America).
...the most original musical thinker of our timeThe New Yorker
Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for 2008, Steve Reich has been called “Americas greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “...the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker) and “...among the great composers of the century” (New York Times).
His music has been influential to composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. He is a leading pioneer of minimalism, having in his youth broken away from the “establishment” that was serialism. His music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental colour. It also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music (especially jazz). His studies have included the Gamelan, African drumming (at the University of Ghana), and traditional forms of chanting the Hebrew scriptures.
Different Trains and Music for 18 Musicians have each earned him GRAMMY awards, and his “documentary video opera” works - The Cave and Three Tales, created in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot - have pushed the boundaries of the operatic medium. Over the years his music has significantly grown both in expanded harmonies and instrumentation, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 composition, Double Sextet.
Steve Reich is published by Boosey & Hawkes.
Quartet – Colin Currie Group
Metal Wood Skin, Southbank Centre (Oct 2014)
Relaxed, intimate and bittersweet in mood, it’s a chamber work in essence, written with the kind of egalitarianism between the musicians that we often find in string quartets, as the emphasis shuttles fluidly from one player, or combination of players, to the next. The slow central section, with its twisting vibraphone lines and shifting harmonies, is somewhat impressionistic. Rhythmic propulsion in the more dynamic outer movements frequently gives way to block chordal figurations that briefly unite all four players in music of considerable rhythmic complexity. Its grace belies its difficulty: it was played with an unassuming virtuosity and a well-nigh faultless sense of ensemble, in which mutual understanding is paramount. Reich was given a hero’s reception when it was over.Tim Ashley, The Guardian ****
In the brand-new Quartet for Two Vibraphones and Two pianos, written specially for Colin Currie, one felt something different. The melody, touched in delicately by Currie and Sam Walton on vibraphones, seemed to be sung rather than struck. It was like a dancing song of praise, and suddenly we seemed to be somewhere ancient. Then, in the cheerfully dancing final movement, the New York neon lights came back. Reich… can bring distant worlds together, something which many apparently more sophisticated composers never achieve.Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph ****
The Quartet has plenty of antecedents in Reich’s output, both for its glittering, glamorous sound-world, and also its two-times-two pairing of instruments playing in canon (copying each other at a short distance). But it also connects with a specifically American tradition, at times fleetingly echoing Bernstein or even Sondheim. The four players capitalised on the richness of the music.Richard Fairman, The Financial Times ****
Music for 18 Musicians
The Rest is Noise Southbank Centre (Nov 2013)
The performance was technically impeccable and musically overwhelming; richly deserving of the lengthy standing ovation.Guy Dammann, The Guardian *****
That concept of harmonic stasis, rhythmic and melodic patterning which appears to stay the same, yet constantly regenerates and reinvents itself, reached its apotheosis in Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. At just an hour long, this piece is vibrant with a kaleidoscope of changing colour, fanciful imagination and sheer glee in communication...Hilary Finch, The Times ****
Reich launched his concert by humbly playing secondo to Colin Currie’s lead in “Clapping Music”, after which Currie and his chamber group gave scintillating performances of three Reich classics, culminating in a magnificent account of his chef d’oeuvre, “Music for 18 musicians”. And for that the Festival Hall acoustic was perfect, allowing it to create the impression of a complex mobile gracefully turning, in which each musician played an independent and eloquent part. It was one thing and many things, simultaneously static and bursting with event: a joyful conundrum.Michael Church, The Independent ****
Royal Festival Hall - World Premiere with London Sinfonietta
Radio Rewrite, given its premiere by the London Sinfonietta who also commissioned the piece, puts Reich in the unusual position of working in someone else’s groove.Neil Fisher, The Times
There was the familiar feeling of being sucked into the rhythms as the pianos pounded or tinkled, the vibraphones shimmered and the strings keened wistfully.Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard
Radio Rewrite is a rich and impressive ensemble piece for non-rock instruments... Those much-hyped allusions are fleeting (most noticeable are hints at the melodic loops of the Kid A track) and although the piece begins with sets of minimalist patters, the journey through the five interlocking movements is varied, with periods of shadowy ambience. Reich’s opinion, republished as part of the programme notes, is that the polarisation of ‘concert’ and ‘popular’ music for musch of the 20th century was just a blip. For many, Radio Rewrite will represent more evidence of the new convergence.Laura Battle, The Financial Times ****
Real composers have two moments of fame. The first comes when they’re young and fashionable, the second when they’re venerable masters. Steve Reich, amazingly, combines the two. He’s both achingly hip and a grand old man. His brand-new Radio Rewrite, co-comissioned by the Sinfonietta, reffered to two Radiohead songs, but it was a long way from being a ‘cover version’ or arrangement. In the slow movements the obsessive “three-chord trick” of Radiohead’s Everything in Its Right Place kept surfacing, but so cunningly woven into a purely Reich-like texture that it was gone almost before you registered it. In the fast ones it was the urgent melody of Jigsaw Falling into Place that caught one’s ear. But again, what gave pleasure was seeing how thoroughly the borrowed material turned into Reich. It was a fine display of compositional mastery, which had nothing to do with remix culture, and everything to do with old-fashioned virtues of harmony and counterpoint.Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph
The Festival Hall was predictably packed for this all-Reich concert, the excitement heightened by the fact that not only was a new piece in the offing but that one of the numerous baseball-capped heads dotted around the audience was Steve Reich's own. The piece, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, can claim significance because while Reich has always argued that concert composers should draw on rock music, he hasn't done so much himself . Here, though, he has taken two Radiohead songs as the basis for a work called Radio Rewrite. Those Radiohead fans (and band members) present will not have missed the snippets from Everything in its Right Place and Jigsaw, but the piece absorbs only a handful of gestures from the songs into an otherwise familiar compositional framework, with alternating fast and slow movements, and oppositions between paired vibraphones and pianos giving structure and drive to the melodic material. In its instrumentation and quasi-renaissance voice-leading, in which the slow-moving lines of the melodic instruments are scrunched together. Reich, for all his celebrity, remains a musicians' musician, his work drawing on a profound respect for craft and graft, and filled, in consequence, by the heat of genuine artistic collaboration.Guy Dammann, The Guardian ****
Radio Rewrite is based on Reich's take on two Radiohead songs, Everything In Its Right Place and Jigsaw Falling Into Place. The bereft, weightless second movement offered a deepened, desolate take on Everything's drifting ennui, although Jigsaw's more sanguine chords and chorus arose most frequently in a what is a spirited, sometimes joyous, new work.Phil Miller, The Herald
Motoric, rhythmic patterns drive the music inexorably towards a sort of ecstasy: it can't help but make you feel cheerful. Scored for flute, clarinet, two vibraphones, two pianos, string quartet and electric bass, this is no mere set of variations. Instead, it reworks the songs into five movements, drawing on their harmonies but rarely giving you a hint of their actual melodies. This is not so much a rewrite as a reimagining in Reich's hyperreal style; instantly accessible, instantly enjoyable. The two vibraphones lay a pearlescent luminosity over the insistent rhythm of the faster movements (based on Jigsaw), while the two slow movements (drawn from Everything) are content to move from one block chord to another, enjoying the sensation of the progression while sprinkling a duet for woodwind over the top.Stephen Pritchard, The Observer
In its instrumentation, Radio Rewrite acts as a bridge between 2 X 5 and Double Sextet. Reich’s technique remains a marvel.Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday
It was after 10pm before the players got round to Reich’s new Radiohead-inspired Radio Rewrite, but it was worth the wait.David Kettle, The Scotsman ****
Steve Reich Reviewed in Gramophone
James McCarthy reviews Steve Reich in Gramophone (November 2012)
A Guide to Steve Reich’s Music
Tom Service, The Guardian
Tom Service's Guide to Steve Reich's Music in the Guardian
Steve Reich at 70 - previews and profiles
Barbican Centre London, October 2006
Interview with Ivan Hewett in the Daily Telegraph
Interview with Sholto Byrnes in the Independent
Interview with John O-Mahoney about Daniel Variations in the Guardian
Steve Reich’s List of Compositions
Steve Reich’s Discography
Photographer Credit: Jeffrey Herman
Photographer Credit: Wonge Bergmann